Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has called on the government to investigate the award of the e-tolling tender to the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL), given the lack of automation and backup system for e-tolls revealed in an emergency incident yesterday.
JPSA expressed “surprise” at the revelation the e-tolling system can be brought to a halt by a security threat such as took place at the SANRAL offices yesterday, saying this points to a lack of automation.
HumanIPO reported yesterday the discovery of a suspicious envelope containing white powder led to the evacuation and shut down of SANRAL’s central operations centre; with SANRAL initially saying this would disrupt the e-tolling system. It was today announced the incident was a hoax, and the white powder was harmless.
JPSA, although “horrified” by the security threat, said the incident also reveals important weaknesses to the “technological masterpiece” of e-tolling, namely that the system is not automated, and has no backup system in case of such emergency incidents.
JPSA expressed concern that corporate IT best practices have apparently not been applied, and asked the government to investigate why the tender was granted to a body which installed a “technologically vulnerable system”.
“[The disruption to e-tolls] suggests two things – namely that the e-tolls system we had been led to believe was highly automated and infallible is reliant on being manned and secondly, that SANRAL has no redundancy built into the e-tolling IT system infrastructure – by having more than one system in place,” said JPSA.
“Given the enormous cost of installing and implementing such a system, one would have thought that fundamental Corporate IT best practices would have been employed and that SANRAL and its tender winners would not have placed all of their eggs in one basket.
“If this is indeed the case, which apparently it is, then government should order an immediate investigation into the competence of both, those who drafted and awarded the tenders and those who simply forged ahead and installed such a technologically vulnerable system, for which the public is expected to pay both arms and both legs for.”
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